Egypt's Sawarka tribe pledges support to security forces in defeating North Sinai terrorists

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Dec 2017

The Bedouin tribe most affected by last month's terrorist massacre in Bir El-Abd asserted its determination to take revenge for the deaths of over 300 people

Military secure worshippers outside Al Rawdah mosque during the first Friday prayer after attack in Bir Al-Abed, Egypt, December 1, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian Bedouin tribe of Sawarka said on Saturday that it will place its men at the disposal of the armed forces as they seek to establish security and stability in North Sinai following last month's terrorist massacre in Bir El-Abd, where the tribe is mostly located.

A statement from the Freemen of Sawarka obtained by Ahram Online declared the tribe's "absolute trust" in the ability of the armed forces to accomplish the security mission in the three-month timeframe set by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

A terrorist attack in the town of Bir El-Abd on 24 November left 311 dead and 128 injured, including 27 children, making it the most deadly attack in recent Egyptian history. Up to 30 gunmen shot worshippers as they left the Al-Rawda Mosque after Friday prayers, with the attackers flying the black flag of the Daesh terrorist group, according to eyewitnesses.

During his speech at a public celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birth (Moulid El-Nabi) on Wednesday, El-Sisi ordered the Egyptian army and police forces to restore stability and security in the Sinai Peninsula within three months, using "utmost force".

“I hold Lieutenant General Hegazy, along with the ministry of interior, responsible for restoring stability and security in Sinai within three months," El-Sisi said, directly addressing the general, who stood at military attention.

In their statement, the Freemen of Sawarka said the tribe was determined to play a direct role in combatting terrorism in the area, echoing previous requests from tribes to join the armed fight against terrorist groups.

Following the Bir El-Abd massacre, the Union of Sinai Tribes expressed the willingness of Sinai tribes to take up arms against terrorist groups, working alongside security forces to defeat the terrorists. In two separate statements, the tribal grouping said they would cooperate with security and military personnel "as one hand" to "cleanse" the peninsula of terrorism.

However, neither the government nor the military gave an official response to the tribes' request to bear arms.

In its Saturday statement, the Sawarka tribe said, "Faced with the bloody massacres to which we are subjected by terrorist cells in Sinai, we need to confirm that we have lost self-restraint, and the factors of national discipline no longer keep our feelings of vengeance in check. So we urge the government to reassess its stance towards Sinai and allow tribes to play their patriotic role in fighting those murderers."

The tribe said that they have remained silent until now out of a sense of national responsibility, allowing the government time to perform its national and constitutional duty.

In January, the Daesh-affiliated online publication Rumiyah released an interview with an alleged leading figure in the terrorist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, who described Al-Rawdah village as a centre for Sufism, adding that the group is fighting Sufism in North Sinai.

In late 2016, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for killing Sinai's oldest Sufi sheikh, Soliman El-Harez, as well as the destruction of two Sufi shrines.

Sufism, often described as “Islamic mysticism”, involves a form of worship where adherents attempt to become close with God through meditation and asceticism.

Daesh considers Sufi Muslims to be heretics.

Al-Rawdah Mosque was built by El-Jaririyah, one of Sinai's largest Sufi orders.

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